While nearly 1 million customers in Louisiana were still without power and Hurricane Ida's death toll rose from four to six, a glimmer of hope emerged Wednesday morning as one of the region's main utilities restored service for some in parts of New Orleans.
"The first light shined early this morning in New Orleans East," Entergy tweeted, adding in a statement that "this is the first step in bringing power back to the metro region, after Hurricane Ida left devastating destruction in its path."
However, officials with the utility were cautiously optimistic, warning it will take some time before things return to normal.
"Crews will have to methodically bring back additional transmission lines over time to provide additional pathways for progress," Entergy tweeted.
Latest updates on Ida:
- Find more up-to-the-minute updates at our live blog.
- Ida, now a tropical depression, is forecast to produce flash flooding and tornadoes across the mid-Atlantic and northeast Wednesday.
- The death toll increased from four to six Wednesday after two Pike Electric workers were killed while repairing power grid damage in Alabama.
- Sixty-two million people are under flood alerts from northern North Carolina to southern Maine.
- Nearly 1 million homes and businesses are without power in Louisiana.
- States hardest hit by Ida, including Louisiana and Mississippi, are under heat advisories.
In Alabama, a state battered by wind and rain caused by Ida, officials said restoration efforts were to blame for two storm-related deaths.
James Banner, senior vice president at Pike Electric, told NBC News that two of the company's workers were killed Tuesday morning while repairing power grid damage in the community of Adger, about 25 miles southwest of Birmingham. The workers, who have not been identified, were assisting Alabama Power at the time.
In a statement, Alabama Power officials called the deaths "a tragic accident," adding that "our thoughts and prayers are with the Pike Electric family during this difficult time."
Two people were killed and 10 were injured late Monday after a 50-foot stretch of highway collapsed in George County, Mississippi, an area that had torrential rains in the previous 24 hours. Three of the injured were critical, according to Mississippi Highway Patrol Trooper Calvin Robertson. Authorities have not identified the two people who died.
Earlier in the day, two deaths in Louisiana were linked to the storm: a 60-year-old man who died in Ascension Parish when a tree fell on his home and a man who drowned after driving through a flooded road, authorities said.
Another 71-year-old Louisiana man was presumed dead after being attacked by an alligator Monday in an area that flooded during Ida, the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff's Office said. A woman in Slidell said her husband was walking in floodwaters around noon when he was attacked by the large alligator, according to the sheriff's office.
She said she pulled him to safety and then went to get help in a boat. When she returned, he was no longer on the front steps.
While New Orleans was largely spared the catastrophic flooding that officials had feared, several communities along the Louisiana coast remained cut off by floodwaters and blocked roadways, complicating rescue efforts as crews scramble to clear debris and begin the weekslong task of restoring the power grid.
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards previously warned that the death toll from Ida could go up "considerably." On Tuesday, the governor pleaded with residents who evacuated ahead of Hurricane Ida to "please don't come home."
The state has another issue to deal with Wednesday: heat.
The National Weather Service has issued heat advisories for Louisiana and for Mississippi, a state where nearly 30,000 homes and business were still without power after Ida. The heat index, which is what the temperature feels like when humidity and air temperature are combined, is expected to reach between 105 and 109 degrees, forecasters said.
Remnants of Ida, now a tropical depression, could impact other parts of the country, with forecasters predicting that the system could produce flash flooding and tornadoes across the mid-Atlantic and Northeast.
About 62 million people are under flood alerts from northern North Carolina to southern Maine, which could see 2 to 6 inches of rain through Thursday morning. Some areas could get more than 8 inches of rain, according to forecasters. New York City; Philadelphia; Hartford, Connecticut; Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; and Providence, Rhode Island, are at high risk for flash flooding.
At least 43 million people are also under the risk for severe thunderstorms, including several tornadoes, across pockets of the mid-Atlantic. Cities with the highest risk for tornadoes this afternoon and evening include Raleigh, North Carolina; Richmond, Virginia; Washington, D.C.; Baltimore; Philadelphia; and New York City.